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Blood II
Review
Caleb is back in the next gore-soaked installment of the Blood franchise. Grab a moist toilette and get ready for some intense killing
The sewers level is probably the easist to get lost in; use the map extensively.
Body: Just a little over a year ago, Monolith Productions used the aging BUILD engine (which had powered Duke Nukem 3D), to turn out a sleeper hit with Blood, which introduced gamers everywhere to the dark-humored Caleb. The creepy critters and innovative weapons helped push Blood past the other 3D shooters, and set the ground-work for a possible franchise. Well, Caleb and friends are back in Blood II: The Chosen, with Monolith switching over to their own LithTech game engine. The result is a great looking gore-fest that provides all the action you'd want from a shooter.
The story behind Blood II picks up from the original with Caleb wandering the Earth, licking his wounds and thinking up new one-liners. Determined to take over the Cabal (who hate Caleb because he killed their god at the end of the first game), Caleb raises the other three members of The Chosen and sets off to kick some ass. Unfortunately, the members of the Cabal have started fooling with other-worldly forces and some serious baddies are crossing over into our world. So, not only does Caleb have to deal with the forces of the Cabal, he has to seal the rift the Cabal has created. After all, we don't want those disgusting creatures taking over our world.

The overall feel of the game is well done, and conveys that Caleb's world is a horrible, horrible place. The gothic Cathedral levels are amazing, as are the levels where you wander through abandoned buildings--which include nice little touches like dead folks hanging from ceiling fans (which are spinning), and impaled bodies littering the floor and walls. The game does stumble a bit, however, in that there are far too many "lab" levels--just normal, everyday environments. Even the levels toward the end of the game, where you go over to "the other side" aren't as cool as they could have been.

One of the big draws of the original Blood was the shameless glee in which it embraced complete and utter carnage. Fans of the original will be happy to hear that that attitude is present in the sequel. While not quite as over-the-top as the first Blood, there are some nice touches. You'll kill innocents for health (slice their throat and watch them slowly die), and pop various limbs off your enemies. Throughout it all Caleb laughs with the joy of a child--what could be more fun than offing your enemies? Also present are the cheesy one-liners, the references to horror movies (which includes you stumbling across the lair of a certain predator), and some great in-game music.

The game starts off with the standard Cabalco thugs--armed with machine guns--and progresses until you must face the denizens from beyond. The design of the creatures is top-notch--there is no doubt that these things come from a very bad place. But while visually inspiring, their AI isn't too hot. They pretty much stand in place and lay it on you--they are hard to kill, however, because they can take a lot of licks and the hit damage for their attacks is jacked up pretty high.

Much like Shogo, multi-player is the weakest link in the game. The multi-player maps are uninspired, seemingly patched together without a lot of thought. Also, lag can be a problem. Undoubtedly, there will be a multi-player patch released to remedy this, but out-of-the-box the performance is not on the same level as Quake II.

There are a few other bugs present in the game, the most obvious of which are the long load times. Even on a high-end machine (a PII 400) the quick load feature was anything but quick. If you are using a lower-end system, such as our recommended specs (don't even attempt to play this game on anything lower), it will take a good while for the game to load. Beyond that, there are some problems climbing ladders.

All in all, Blood II is a fine shooter and a welcome addition to a market filled to the brim with 3D action games. If you're looking for over-the-top violence and wise-cracking anti-heroes, you'll dig Blood II.

- William Harms
Screens
Pistol

"One of the big draws of the original Blood was the shameless glee in which it embraced complete and utter carnage."

Screens

Improved lighting effects over Blood I pump up the game's eerie quality.

Exteriors are handled just as nicely as interiours, with the sky looming ominously over the cathedral.

Blood II also has improved level design that is more ingenious and less linear than its previous incarnation.

Stats
Developer Monolith Productions
Publisher GT Interactive
Genre Shooter
Supports 3D Acceleration
Sponsor
Faster.
Smoother.
Harder.
Faster..
Faster.

Make Your PC Climax.
Requirements
Windows 95; Pentium 133; 32MB RAM; Four-speed CD-ROM
Recommended
Pentium II 233; 64 MB RAM; Eight-speed CD-ROM; Voodoo or Voodoo2 graphics card Multi-player: IPX; TCP/IP; Modem Play via DirectPlay
A juicy secret
Can't get enough of Blood 2? There's a whole community devoted to continuing Monolith's dark shooter. Just check out www.blood2.com to find plenty of fan art and fiction.

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